29. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction

The Last Wild by Piers Torday, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 01/28/2015

Oh how I hate a cliffhanger! Mainly because I don’t have the next book on hand to immediately start reading. I have wanted to read The Last Wild ever since I heard about it and it did not disappoint.

Kester is a boy who has been taken from his home and imprisoned in Spectrum Hall. He is unable to speak ever since his mom died several years ago. He hasn’t heard from his dad in the six years he has been in Spectrum Hall. Kester’s world is one in which there was a plague that destroyed all the animals and the food of the world. The people of the island where he lives are confined into four cities and the island is controlled by the powerful Factorium. One ordinary day in Spectrum Hall Kester discovers he can hear animals. First it is a cockroach and then pigeons. They break Kester out and take him to the last wild. There he meets the last stag and many other animals that have survived the plague. Unfortunately, they are in danger because the plague has reached the last wild. Their only hope is Kester and finding a cure. Kester sets off with the stag, cockroach, pigeons and a courageous wolf-pup to the city to find his father and a cure. Along the way he is joined by other animals and Polly, who has lived in the quarantine zone with her parents until they disappeared. They are chased by the evil henchmen of the Factorium who wants to destroy all animals no matter if they are sick or not. Kester has to find his courage and his voice in order to succeed.

It isn’t often that you read a book where the main character cannot talk. While Kester can talk to the animals, he is unable to communicate with the people he meets. This leads to some pretty interesting situations. As much as I liked Kester and Polly, it was really the animals who were the stars of this story. There is the only white pigeon who repeats everything the gray pigeons say only in a different order and often with completely different and hilarious meanings. There is the brave wolf-pup who is super courageous and let’s everyone know about his bravery. There is the cockroach named “General” who seems to sleep more than most put still claims to be the leader. There is the mouse who has a dance for every occasion. And finally the majestic stag who saves them time and again. The book is a mix of fantasy and dystopian and road novel mixed with coming of age. I loved every page of it!

26. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Tales by Terry Pratchett, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 01/23/2015

Dragons at Crumbling Castle is a collection of short stories from Terry Pratchett’s youth. In them you can see the beginnings of Pratchett’s signature snarky style and irreverent humor. These fourteen tales are fun and funny and slightly silly. Fans of Pratchett will certainly enjoy this peak into his early work.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

26. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, 301 pages, read by Angie, on 01/23/2015

This is one of those books that stays with you. Even days after I finished reading it I am still thinking about it and the world Lelye Walton created. I generally don’t like magical realism books; they just aren’t my thing, but there was something about this one that got its hooks into me and wouldn’t let go. The title is misleading; this is not just a book about Ava Lavender, the girl born with wings. It is the tragic story of her entire family going back generations. It starts with her great-grandfather moving the family to New York. New York is not gentle with the Roux family. All of them suffer for love and die, all except Emilienne who flees New York, marries a baker and moves to the house on Pinnacle Lane. Her husband dies early leaving her with neighbors who think she is a witch, a young Viviane to raise and a bakery. Viviane too has her troubles with love. She ends us broken hearted with two young children: Henry who barely speaks and sees things others cannot and Ava with her glorious wings. She sequestered them in the house on Pinnacle Lane but even that cannot stop the tragedy that seems to follow the family.

This is not a happy book in any way. There is death and loss and rape and people turning into birds. It is like a dark fairy tale told to scare children and warn them about the dangers of love. The entire time you are reading it you know terrible things are just around the corner. You want to warn the characters but you can’t. There is a lot that can’t be explained but you realize you don’t need an explanation. You can just believe that this is the way the world works in Walton’s mind. This is not a book for everybody but those that get lost in the story will have a hard time finding themselves again.

26. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, Peter de Sève (Illustrator), 255 pages, read by Lisa, on 01/23/2015

Daystar never thought he’d be walking through the Enchanted Forest with a magic sword, a fire-witch, and a baby dragon. He never dreamed his mother, Cimorene, would tell him to leave their home and not to return until his task was complete. Or that he alone held the power to release King Mendanbar and the Enchanted Forest from the wizards’ evil spell. He doesn’t even know who King Mendanbar is.

But Daystar learns quickly — and that’s good, because he’s about to encounter magic and wizards and dragons. Quite a deadly combination.

Description from Goodreads.com

23. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

The Thickety: A Path Begins by J.A. White , 496 pages, read by Angie, on 01/22/2015

Kara Westfall was five when her mother was killed for being a witch. Her mother allegedly killed her best friend before being caught. Even Kara’s father denounces her as an evil witch. They live on an island in the middle of the ocean and follow the Path of Timoth Clen who helped rid the world of witches. They are a secluded group cut off from the world. The island is also home to the Thickety, a magically impenetrable forest that the villagers must fight to keep clear of their land. When Kara is twelve she discovers a book that she believes is her mother’s grimoire. She starts casting spells and realizes the danger that the use of magic creates. Everyone’s favorite girl Grace (who is actually horrible) discovers Kara’s magic and finds that she too is a witch. Grace wants the power magic holds however and soon Kara is doing everything she can to survive and ensure the survival of her family.

I really enjoy this type of book with magic and fantastical creatures and interesting worlds. I do wish we would have learned more about the world outside the island. Is it like our world? Is it filled with magic and fantastical creatures as well? Kara is one of those spunky heroines that you just can’t help cheering for. She makes mistakes but has the good of the village in her heart. I wish there was more dimension to Grace’s character. She is just your typical mean girl on a power trip for the most part. However, the action is good and the story will keep you turning the pages.

21. January 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Brian, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Teen Books · Tags:

Desert Tales: A Wicked Lovely Companion Novel by Melissa Marr, 245 pages, read by Brian, on 01/21/2015

desertThis a companion novel to the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr.  This novel takes place in the Mojave Desert where Rika (human and now fairy) chose to live.  Rika, didn’t really belong with the desert fey.  She basically lives in solitude.  Ritka meets a human who is kind and a romance begins, so maybe, just maybe, fey can come out of hiding from the humans.

 

18. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill, 384 pages, read by Angie, on 01/17/2015

Ned is the “wrong boy”; he lived when his twin brother Tam did not. His mother, Sister Witch, could not bear to lose both her boys at the same time so she sewed Tam’s soul into Ned thus saving his life but causing him difficulties. Ned is never able to speak without stuttering or read any words after the accident. The townspeople believe the wrong boy was saved and treat him badly. His father can barely look at him. Sister Witch is the keeper of magic in their village. The magic has been passed down through the generations and they are charged with helping others and keeping the magic good. The magic has a mind of its own however and takes a toll on the wielder. Aine lives with her father in the forest. They used to live by the sea but then her mother died and her father’s heart was broken. He hid them away in the forbidden forest and became the bandit king. He too has magic and the magic has warped and changed him into something Aine has difficulty recognizing. The Bandit King learns about Sister Witch’s magic and is determined to get it for himself. This sets up a series of events where Ned takes the magic into himself and gets lost in the forest. Aine and Ned team up with a wolf in order to return the magic to Sister Witch. Of course things don’t go as planned. Ned’s country is cut off from the world and governed by a strong queen. The neighboring king is a spoiled brat who wants what he doesn’t have and is determined to invade the country and harness the magic for himself. There are also nine standing stones who were once people and it is their magic free in the world. All these things collide in the conclusion of The Witch’s Boy.

Once I started reading this book I really didn’t want to put it down. I loved the world that was created by Kelly Barnhill. Ned is a fantastic character hurt by the death of his brother and struggling as the survivor. He wants to be more and taking the magic into himself allows him to grown and discover just how strong he really was. Aine is such an interesting character as well. She is hard and cold but only because the world has made her that way. Inside she wants what everyone wants family and friends to love. She struggles with the fact that her father has been corrupted by the magic and despite her love for him knows he must be stopped. This is a wonderful story and one I would highly recommend.

16. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Fairest, Vol. 4: Of Men and Mice by Marc Andreyko, 144 pages, read by Brian, on 01/15/2015

fairiestLook who’s back.  Cinderella!  Cin, must stop a terrible plot to destroy Fabletown.  If she can figure out what the plot might be.

 

16. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Tammy

Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files: War Cry Collection (Jim Butcher's Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher, 136 pages, read by Tammy, on 01/12/2015

war cry  A new story in the Dresden Files that was not previously told in one of the novels in the series. This graphic novel collection tells the story of Dresden as a Warden during the war with the Red Court and a pivotal assignment that he and his young green recruits receive. Introduces some background for these future wardens that appear in the novels and their relationship to our hero, Harry.

13. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

The Last Changeling by Jane Yolen, 304 pages, read by Angie, on 01/12/2015

Prince Aspen and midwife Snail are on the run from both the Seelie and Unseelie armies. They have unintentionally started a war between the two courts. On the road they meet up with Professor Odds and his band of misfit players. Together with a new mother troll and her baby, they hit the road to evade the armies. Professor Odds is not what he seems however, and has ulterior motives for recruiting Snail. Turns out she is a changeling, a human child stolen into the faery world. Professor Odds is recruiting changelings to take on whichever army wins the war. Prince Aspen just wants to stop the war however he can, but at this point it is pretty inevitable.

So I didn’t read the first book of the series but this one does a nice job of summing up the events. There is a lot of humor with the dwarves and the dog/carpet thing and the troll. There is a nice cast of characters taken straight out of faery lore, though I do wish some of them had been more explained. I know what a red cap is, but young readers probably do not. This book sets up the final book in the trilogy very nicely and I am sure fans will be eagerly awaiting the conclusion.

12. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise, 160 pages, read by Kira, on 01/03/2015

index  9780152057275-dyingmeetyou1_zoom9780152057343-overmydead1_zoomFormer best-selling author, I.B. Grumpy, has rented a Victorian Mansion in an attempt to cure his writer’s block.  Unfortunately, he didn’t read the clause in the contract specifying that he had to take care of the owners kid Seymour Hope whilst Seymour’s parents are in Paris, maybe for the summer, or maybe permanently.  There is a sweetness to this book, and I liked the just deserts delivered to the parents.

11. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags: ,

Dragon Strike: Book 4 in the Age of Fire series by E. E. Knight., 353 pages, read by Kira, on 01/10/2015

index age_of_fire_dragon_trio_by_isvoc-d7zqvk5.png   map3_borders_smallHere the tale of the 3 dragon siblings merges together again.2816715wistala_by_3l3ctr0head-d46r954  It is nice to see the 3rd sibling, the crippled one, depicted as such a great leader.

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel

Hinterkind Vol. 1 by Ian Edginton, 144 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/08/2015

In this post-apocalyptic wasteland, humanity has been stricken by a terrible and virulent virus. The remaining humans live in isolated pockets. When a group living in Manhattan loses contact with a group from Albany, a search and rescue party is sent out to see what the trouble is. Turns out that the the rest of the world is populated with fairies, trolls, and a wide variety of other “monsters” previously thought to belong solely to the realm of fiction. With humanity in decline, these creatures can now take back the land that they once ruled.
Considering all the one- and two-star ratings for this book, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t, you know, terrible. It wasn’t all that great either. I really wanted to like the comic that was billed as “Fables meets Walking Dead”. While that’s not entirely inaccurate, it also sets a pretty high bar that this comic ultimately can’t reach. The characters are hit or miss and the transitions between storylines are abrupt, even jarring. The artwork leaves a bit to be desired, but it’s not as bad as other reviewers on here make it out to be. All in all, it’s a clever premise with mediocre execution.

08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Teen Books

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, 287 pages, read by Courtney, on 12/08/2015

Once upon a time, magic ruled the world. Now, however, magic is fading and is used more for unclogging drains than battling evil. Jennifer Strange works at Kazam, an employment agency for magicians. She herself is not magical, but she has a certain knack for managing magical people. Things are getting strange though. Feats of magic that shouldn’t have been possible are being accomplished and Jennifer is having some very strange visions. These visions indicate that Big Magic is coming, which will either re-infuse the world with magic or wipe it out all together. It all hinges on the last dragon and the last Dragonslayer. Dragons have been living on their own lands for centuries, in accordance with the Dragonpact. Unless a dragon breaks the pact by causing damage to human life or property, they cannot be slain. If however, they do happen to break the pact, only the Dragonslayer can cross into their territory to kill the dragon. Imagine Jennifer’s surprise when she is told that she is now the last Dragonslayer. Everyone wants her to kill the dragon, but the pact hasn’t been broken for as long as anyone can remember and Jennifer can find no good reason to take the dragon’s life. In fact, the dragon appears quite amicable, if a bit lonely. What’s a girl and her Quarkbeast to do?
The Last Dragonslayer starts off slow, but winds up wonderful. There’s a lot of clever stuff going on here. The world is very much like ours, but with magic. For instance, as the world finds out that Jennifer is the last Dragonslayer, she finds herself inundated with endorsement offers from soft drink companies and marriage proposals from random suitors. The public has gathered at the border of the dragon’s land with the intention of staking a claim on some of the land that will be freed up upon the dragon’s death (for now, crossing the border for anyone other than the dragonslayer and those working for him/her means certain death). Much of the action is informed by the motivations that drive real life people – greed, jealousy, etc. This provides fertile ground for Fforde’s brand of satirical humor. An unexpected ending makes for a delightful and mostly self-contained read, though there are now three books in this series. I read this one with my middle-schoolers for this month’s book club. They all loved it, but agreed that it took some time to get into. Also, we all loved, loved, loved the Quarkbeast. It takes a certain amount of talent to create a character that is described as terrifying to behold but utterly endearing to read about and says only one thing: “Quark.” You know you’ve found a book that your tweens love when they make plans to walk around saying “Quark” at their upcoming orchestra concert.
08. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Sarah

Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George, 212 pages, read by Sarah, on 01/05/2015

This delightful book is the third in a series about the Castle Glower.  Princess Celie and a few others were sent to where the castle came from originally and find 2 wizards, more griffins, and a tomb of the master builder of the castle.  This is an exciting book that will keep you guessing.  Only problem was I should have re-read the series before picking this one up!  Took a little bit to remember who everyone was.  Enjoy.

07. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Frostborn by Lou Anders, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 01/06/2015

Thianna is half giant half human and doesn’t feel like she fits in with her giant family. She is picked on because she is only seven feet tall instead of the normal 18 feet. Because of this she has become stronger and more sneaky than a regular giant. Karn is a twelve-year-old human who just wants to play his Thrones and Bones board game. He doesn’t want to learn to run the farm like his father, he doesn’t want to learn to barter or do anything. Thianna and Karn meet when their fathers gather to trade. Soon after they both end up on the run and relying on each other for survival. Karn is tricked by his greedy uncle into releasing draugs (zombies) which ends up with his father being turned to stone and his uncle in control of the farm. Thianna is being pursued by three women on wyverns who are after something her mother stole. Their journey across the country brings them closer together and makes them realize just how strong they really are. Karn learns that the strategy he employs playing Thrones and Bones can be used in real life. Thianna learns that her mixed heritage comes in handy in many ways. Together they must find a way to defeat their enemies and save their families.

I had really low expectations for this book (not sure why) when I started it. Those expectations were quickly blown away by the extremely interesting world Lou Anders has created. I loved the mixture of fantasy elements and Scandinavian history. I also really enjoyed Thianna’s character. She is such a strong female who takes pride in her strength and resilience. Karn took a little while to grow on me. I wanted him to look up from his board game long before he did, but he too became a strong character to cheer for. It was a fun story and I look forward to the sequel.

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, 224 pages, read by Lisa, on 12/24/2014

They’re back! Except Princess Cimorene is now Queen Cimorene of the Enchanted Forest, and she is on a very important mission with Kazul the dragon king, Morwen the witch, Telemain the magician, two cats, and a blue, flying donkey-rabbit named Killer. It’s not going to be easy.

The wizards have become very smart (sort of) and have found a way to capture the most powerful source of magic in the Enchanted Forest — King Mendanbar’s sword. If the sword is not returned to the forest in due time, the forest will begin to die. And you can bet your last dragon scale that Cimorene won’t stand for that!

Description from Goodreads.com

06. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson, 304 pages, read by Lisa, on 12/12/2014

Pennyroyal Academy: Seeking bold, courageous youths to become tomorrow’s princesses and knights….Come one, come all!

A girl from the forest arrives in a bustling kingdom with no name and no idea why she is there, only to find herself at the center of a world at war.  She enlists at Pennyroyal Academy, where princesses and knights are trained to battle the two great menaces of the day: witches and dragons. There, given the name “Evie,” she must endure a harsh training regimen under the steel glare of her Fairy Drillsergeant, while also navigating an entirely new world of friends and enemies. As Evie learns what it truly means to be a princess, she realizes surprising things about herself and her family, about human compassion and inhuman cruelty. And with the witch forces moving nearer, she discovers that the war between princesses and witches is much more personal than she could ever have imagined.

Set in Grimm’s fairytale world, M.A. Larson’s Pennyroyal Academymasterfully combines adventure, humor, and magical mischief.

Description from Goodreads.com

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

Emma and the Blue Genie. by Cornelia Funke, 90 pages, read by Kira, on 01/01/2015

0385375409 emma-and-the-blue-genie-illustration2-kerstin-meyer-001 emma-und-der-blaue-dschinnI’ve really enjoyed Cornelia Funke’s works, and was delighted to see another of her works translated into English.  This is a short story of a girl having an adventure in elsewhere with some genies.

05. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Mystery · Tags:

Secondhand Spirits: A Witchcraft Mystery by Juliet Blackwell., 336 pages, read by Kira, on 01/03/2015

imagesLily Ivory, a witch, runs a vintage clothing shop.  Against her wishes, she is gifted a familiar who takes the form of a pig.  During the course of  her days she discovers…

I like the nuanced characters, and the fact that Lily is a very strong protagonist.  I also liked that the villain was difficult to spot or figure out – though the clues were there.  I very much enjoyed this fulfilling mystery.